The wine industry itself would have us believe that China will soon be the "largest vineyard" in the world but a group of wine experts told a seminar Thursday they remained unconvinced by the claim.
China's rising power in the world of wine was a main talking point during the three-day Vinexpo Asia-Pacific trade fair, which closed Thursday after attracting more than 15,000 people through its doors, a record for the event.
The event was primarily focused on bridging that gap between China's fast-growing demand for wine and the international winemakers who would like to feed that demand, while also providing a shop window for Chinese winemakers to show their wares.
But on the last day, a "China: The biggest Vineyard in the future?" seminar stepped outside all the excitement and tried to decide just where China's wine industry actually now stands.
"China's wine industry is still very young," said Olivier Poels, deputy editor of La Revue du vin de France, which hosted the seminar here and also a blind tasting of 97 Chinese wines.
"Each wine must have something to say and making outstanding wine is something different, it takes time. There are not enough really memorable wines coming out of China yet.
Working with a place's personality
"Chinese winemakers need to learn how to make wine with the personality of the place where it was born. It is no good trying to copy Lafite because you cannot."
Judy Leissner, the owner of China's Grace Vineyard, agreed. While the Chinese wine industry is expanding rapidly - 156.19 million nine-litre cases of wine were sold in the country last year, fifth most in the world - it is still very much in its infancy, compared to the world's major wine producing regions such as France, where serious winemaking dates back 2,000 years.
"There is a lack of data and a lack of experience," she said. "We need time and we need the help of experienced international wine makers so we all can learn."
Leissner also said the wine consumers in China were still developing their tastes - and still learning about what wines to drink and how they should be enjoyed.
"I remember in one of our bars seeing three people walk in, buy eight bottles of wine and have them opened all at once," said Leissner. "They were finished in about three hours, too. In China, everybody is learning - and that included the wine drinker and the wine maker."